“For Dixon, it's about remaining healthy. Don't forget that he was a top-10 national receiver prospect when he signed with Ohio State in 2014. But knee problems have kept him from ever flashing his potential.”
Spring practice at Ohio State is always an exciting time for players and fans alike, because of the intense competition that generally seems to come within the roster for spots on the depth chart. Bill Landis of Cleveland.com did a breakdown of seven players that have the most to gain from spring practices. Those players, in order, were Dante Booker, Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, Dwayne Haskins, Demetrius Knox, Kendall Sheffield, and Erick Smith. Some of these make sense. Dante Booker and Johnnie Dixon have both had plenty of hype surrounding their time at Ohio State but injuries have stopped them from ever really contributing at a high level. With both healthy this spring, there’s a good chance they’ll play large roles all season.
Parris Campbell was an interesting selection, but one that isn’t hard to agree with. Campbell has shown flashes in the return game but hasn’t produced as a wide receiver just yet like the staff had hoped he would. Erick Smith is fighting for a spot at safety after the Buckeyes lost almost all of their defensive secondary last season. Overall, there are plenty of players to keep an eye on, but these are very strong contenders for some of the ones that you could be hearing about more and more as the season draws closer.
“[Mock Draft] 2. San Francisco 49ers: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State. 5. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams): Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State”
Defense is a hot commodity for the 2017 NFL Draft it appears, and Ohio State looks to provide plenty of talent in the first round coming up in April. In this latest mock draft, Two Buckeyes go in the first five picks, Malik Hooker second overall to the San Francisco 49ers, and Marshon Lattimore fifth overall to the Tennessee Titans. The two defensive backs were standouts at Ohio State last season, helping the Buckeyes secure a trip to the College Football Playoff. Their hyper-athleticism and ceilings are attractive to a lot of NFL teams and they should be successful at the next level.
A fellow defensive back, Gareon Conley, was also taken in the first round of the mock draft. Conley is slotted to the 28th overall pick, to the Dallas Cowboys. That would reunite Conley with his former teammate Ezekiel Elliott and also help the Cowboys recover losing some of their defensive secondary recently.
“Damon Arnette and Denzel Ward were repping with the first team defense Tuesday, but if anyone passes the eye test its Kendall Sheffield, a JUCO transfer who started his career at Alabama”
One of the most interesting battles this offseason for Ohio State is in the secondary. With Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore, and Gareon Conley all moved on to the NFL, there are going to be at least three fresh faces starting for the Buckeyes this fall. Only Damon Webb returns as a starter. As of right now, it seems that Damon Arnette and Denzel Ward are slotted to be starting at the cornerbacks, while Kendall Sheffield, the JUCO transfer, tries to make a push. It’s totally possible that Sheffield finds himself on the field plenty this season depending on how he performs in practices. As Wasserman mentions in the article, Sheffield as a bit of an edge physically over Arnette and Ward, considering he’s been two years removed from high school already.
But this secondary has the potential to be loaded. With talented freshman entering the fold such as Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade, there should be plenty of storylines to follow during the season about the progression of these individuals. The secondary will be deep unlike some years, and it’s very possible that we end up seeing some sort of rotation early on in the season.